FCC News Brief - September 14, 2018

Read Red tide and blue-green algae could block Rick Scott’s path to the Senate - “ You get a phone call, and the first thing they want to know: what’s up with the red tide?’ said offshore fishing guide Larry Conley. What’s up with it is that the bloom has killed millions of fish, sea turtles, dolphins and manatees, their carcasses washing up on beaches and adding the stench of decay to air already acrid from the toxins released by the algae. Tourism has plummeted, and while August and September are typically the slowest of the year, officials fear that visitors will continue to stay away this autumn and winter. ‘It hurts everybody,’ he said. ‘If I don’t make enough money to buy a new car, that dealership is going to sell one less car. It’s going to trickle down, because this is the land of vacation.’ Like millions of Floridians whose livelihoods are directly and indirectly tied to the state’s water quality, Conley is watching his income dry up just as the man he and many others believe is responsible for the environmental calamity is seeking a new political office: Gov. Rick Scott, who hopes to become Sen. Rick Scott...Environmentalists say Scott’s up-is-down, black-is-white claims on the issue are, if nothing else, impressive to behold. ‘It’s so deceitful as to be demoralizing,’ said David Conway, the managing editor of Florida Sportsman magazine. Last month, the magazine published a detailed accounting of Scott’s actions and inactions through the years that have precipitated the dual algae blooms...Scott campaign spokesman Chris Hartline disputed the environmentalists’ concerns — “They’re wrong,” he told HuffPost recently — and instead argued that Scott has been a good steward for the state’s water and land. ‘DEP has proven that through education and outreach, you can effectively prevent environmental harm from the occurring in the first place,’ Hartline said. The facts of his eight years in office, though, tell a different story. Conway’s Florida Sportsman report, citing data compiled by a former water management district scientist, showed dramatic spikes of nitrogen and phosphorous levels in Lake Okeechobee over the last three years. ‘I don’t think people realize how serious our water problem is,’ said Eva Armstrong, who had run the DEP’s land acquisition program under Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. ‘It’ll take years to get this turned around…” S.V. Date reports for the Huffington Post

Read U.S. Endangered species list would include St. Lucie River fish if Martin County succeeds - “Bigmouth sleepers, opossum pipefish and swordspine snook call the St. Lucie River home, and local government officials want to keep it that way. Martin County commissioners agreed unanimously Tuesday night to pay Grant Gilmore, a Vero Beach marine biologist, $30,000 to submit petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the three fish species added to the federal endangered species list. Stuart will be looking for ways to cooperate with the county's effort, said newly elected Commissioner Mike Meier. ‘I'm glad to see we're hitting the issue from both sides," Meier said. ‘It's an important issue for both the city and the county, so it's important we have a concerted effort between the two of us.’ The three fish species live in the freshwater reaches of the St. Lucie River and very few other places, said Gilmore, who has been studying fish in the Indian River Lagoon since 1971. ‘The only places in the United States that these fish reproduce are the St. Lucie, Loxahatchee and Sebastian rivers along the Indian River Lagoon,’ he said. ‘And of the three rivers, if you wanted the best chance to see these fish, you've gotta go to the St. Lucie.’ The Treasure Coast is "sitting on some of the most endangered fish in the United States,’ Gilmore said. ‘Unfortunately, they're also the home of some of the most endangered water in the United States.’ Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard said she pushed for Gilmore's project because water quality in the lagoon and the river ‘are deteriorating at such an escalating rate. If there are species that are found only there, it's extremely critical we get them listed before they become extinct.’ The effort is not intended to lead to legal action calling for the Army Corps of Engineers to stop Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River, Heard said. That would be ‘a real uphill battle,’ said John Maehl, the county's ecosystem manager. The risk to animal species caused by the discharges ‘doesn't stack up well,’ Maehl said, against the Corps' argument the discharges are needed to assure the health and safety of people south of the lake. ‘Is this a silver bullet to getting the discharges stopped?’ Heard asked. ‘Nah. But people in Martin County consider our estuary precious, and they'll take every opportunity to protect it...” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Pine Island organization discusses water quality- “ The Greater Pine Island Civic Association invited Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani to its meeting last week to discuss the water quality issues Southwest Florida has recently been facing. Beaches in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties have seen record levels of dead sea life for the last several months due to red tide and blue-green algae blooms. Cassani is a career scientist and director/officer committee chair of the Calusa Waterkeeper. ‘The Calusa River Watch was started in 1997 and after getting our full licensing in 2016 became the Calusa Waterkeeper, Inc.,’ Cassani said. ‘A lot of what I do is policy development and the Waterkeepers in Florida are trying to get the 'Harmful Algae Bloom' (HAB) task force reinstated.’ The state Legislature created the HAB task force ‘for the purpose of determining research, monitoring, control, and mitigation strategies for red tide and other harmful algal blooms in Florida waters.’...’The extent and intensity of this cyanobacteria bloom is unbelievable that's why cyanobacteria is called the 'cells from hell',’ Cassani said. ‘These are harmful algae blooms that can have severe impacts on human health, and aquatic life. ‘These blooms are not to be taken lightly," Cassani said. ‘There are many scientists that now think that harmful algae blooms are the greatest threat to the water quality.’ Both the cyanobacteria and the red tide produce toxins.’ These are some of the most toxic compounds on the planet,’ Cassani said. ‘Unfortunately, they are unregulated and can affect liver function. We're seeing communities in Florida where these toxins are in the public water supply and we're seeing statistically higher incidence of liver cancer…’You don't want to get it on you, you don't want to inhale it, and you don't want to ingest it,’ Cassani said. ‘Calusa Waterkeepers is all about drinkable, fishable, swimmable water." Cassani doesn't recommend eating fish from local waters. ‘The $64,000 question becomes: 'Is it here? Is it in our fish, is it in our water?' It absolutely is!’ Cassani believes the economic effects Southwest Florida is experiencing today won't reach full impact until some time next year...:” From the Fort Myers Beach Observer.

Read Red tide will be a problem again someday. Manatee County wants a ‘playbook’ for next time - “As Florida’s Gulf Coast continues to scramble for the solutions and causes of the latest red tide bloom, Manatee County hopes to lead the way with a data-driven ‘playbook.’ At Tuesday’s county commission meeting, researchers from the University of Central Florida announced their plan to apply for a grant that would allow them to work on a project in Manatee County that analyzes actions that mitigate red tide and actions to take once red tide reappears. Commissioners unanimously supported a motion to move forward with the grant application. ‘Red tide is going to be returning, so it would be nice to put what we learned in a playbook and go forward,’ said Charlie Hunsicker, director of parks and natural resources...In addition to ensuring preparedness for red tide, the project will encompass other natural disasters of unknown duration, such as oil spills and coastal erosion...The team will analyze that data in effort to recognize and report ‘citizen-sensed’ data on subjects such as water quality, air quality and other user concerns. ‘Even if you don’t think you’re involved, we can use citizen-sourced data to expand and see how the community is reading red tide and any other type of environmental disaster,’ Lewis said, referring to public tweets that include a geotagged location...As red tide maintains its months-long hold on Manatee waters, commissioners said this project is exactly what Florida counties need in order to educate themselves on the proper measures to take before, during and after a harmful algae bloom hits. ‘We’re just starting the process – just like Irma – of learning what to do. We’re getting the right people and procedures in place to combat it because it affects the quality of life out there,’ said Commissioner Stephen Jonsson.” Ryan Callihan reports for the Bradenton Herald.

Read Happehatchee Center in Estero could come under Conservancy of Southwest Florida control- “The Conservancy of Southwest Florida could take over operations of the Happehatchee Center in Estero if an agreement is reached between each nonprofit's board of directors. Discussions between the Conservancy of Southwest Florida — a more than 50-year-old environmental advocacy organization — and the Happehatchee Center are ongoing. If an agreement is reached, the transition between the two nonprofits could happen in about a year, Moher said. ‘The intention is there. Both boards are positive,’ he said. ‘There’s not a question this is a bad idea. It’s about working through all the details.’ Genelle Grant, president of the Happehatchee Center's board of directors, said the nonprofit ‘looks forward to working with the Conservancy.’ She declined further comment. Talks between the two groups began about a year ago, when the Conservancy of Southwest Florida was approached to see if the Happehatchee Center board wanted to discuss permanent conservation of the 5 acres on Corkscrew Road and of the center's environmental programs on the Estero River property, Moher said...Should the Conservancy of Southwest Florida take over Happehatchee Center operations, the nonprofit's focus would be to deliver more environmental education programs to Lee County and to secure permanent conservation of the property, Moher said. There could be some adjustments to current programs depending on staffing and interests, but anything with a light footprint on the land is viewed as compatible, Moher said. A transition would be ‘a slow, thoughtful process,’ he said.  ‘The Conservancy does not want to come in and make radical changes to anything happening,’ Moher said.” Brittany Carloni reports for Naples Daily News.

Read Orlando’s green Community Action Plan calls for air quality monitors, bans on Styrofoam and straws- “perched atop light poles along with bans on Styrofoam containers, plastic bags and straws at city facilities and events as well as a return of the residential rain-barrel program. These proposals are listed in a five-year update of Orlando’s Community Action Plan, which serves as its roadmap of environmentally friendly policies and programs. The update is expected to be heard and potentially adopted Sept. 17 by the City Council. ‘This is the next evolution of Green Works,’ Director of Sustainability Chris Castro said, referring to the city’s name for its sustainability department. The recommendations come after Orlando officials for about a year hosted community workshops, roundtable discussions, public forums and online surveys about possible sustainability advancements. Following a workshop presentation Monday, the City Council is expected to consider a resolution that would adopt the new plan. If approved, work would immediately begin on developing policies to put it into practice...Some who helped develop the plan “felt we needed to start measuring the air quality in the city so we could address it,” Castro said. ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure.’ Rain barrels, which catch water from gutters, could again be offered to residents in Orlando, much like how the city distributes composters. Officials say the barrels reduce erosion and pollution, by reducing stormwater runoff. The city once had a similar program, but it ended due to a lack of funding, spokeswoman Jessica Garcia said. Castro said officials also are considering land-development code changes to require new trees be planted when others are cut down. Meanwhile, officials also may prepare a policy banning the use of Styrofoam containers — commonly used for takeout and leftovers — as well as plastic bags and straws by vendors at city events and facilities, the plan states. These containers often ending up floating in waterways and storm drains. Ryan Gillespie reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Opinion: Brevard Indian River Lagoon cleanup plan misguided - “It’s no secret the Indian River Lagoon is in a state of ecological collapse. The efforts of those involved in planning and executing IRL restoration deserve our gratitude. Nonetheless, we believe that some of the priorities of the Brevard County restoration plan funded by a half-cent sales tax are misaligned. This is the order of priorities as we see them. Everyone agrees that the first step is to stabilize the IRL. This is why dredging muck — the legacy of decades of mismanagement — is important. However, muck dredging is receiving too much of the available funds. The muck removal process is not as effective as it first appeared in the Save the Lagoon Plan because leaching from the biosolids removed from dredging are quickly returning into the IRL. More important, less funding is available to address fixing the sources of the illness. The top priority should be addressing the top inputs of nutrients into the IRL: septic and sewage. Failures of Brevard County’s outdated sewage treatment infrastructure have become regular news items. In addition, a significant portion of septic systems in Brevard County are introducing nutrients into the IRL. This will be expensive and time consuming, but it must be done for the long-term benefits. There are numerous examples from other locations of the benefits of this approach...Greater pressure must also be put on state and county agencies to improve their behavior, and this will only come from residents and political representatives who are informed. Chief among these is the Department of Transportation. A quick survey, for example, of U.S. Route 1 reveals many areas that drain directly into the IRL without any filtration from settlement ponds or marshes. This is injecting polluted water into the IRL every time it rains.  The use of toxic herbicides to remove aquatic weeds and roadside grasses and plants must also end...We are concerned that a desire for a quick-fix and political expedience will short-circuit what experience in other estuaries tells us is a long-term process. The causes of the IRL’s ecological collapse didn’t happen overnight and recovery will be a similar long-term process. It’s important that we don’t take the bait of short-term gratification because it will impede true restoration in the end…” Aaron Adams and Mitchell Roffer write for Florida Today.

Read Southeastern states stand out as shining examples of climate action - “Against the backdrop of a stark, partisan divide on U.S. climate action at the federal level, state and local officials shared stories of common-sense action on climate change in the Southeast. ‘The conventional wisdom is that climate action is only happening in ‘blue states,’ said Andrea McGimsey, senior director of Global Warming Solutions for Environment America. ‘The reality is that states and localities in all regions recognize the problem and are bringing their communities into a clean energy future.’ As part of the Global Climate Action Summit this week, Environment America and its state affiliates in the Southeast convened a panel of state, local and business leaders from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia to share stories of climate progress and potential. The panel also came at a time when the region braces for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. Two speakers from North Carolina sent in statements to be read, as they needed to stay home with their families and communities...St. Petersburg, Florida is one of over 80 cities and towns across the country committed to 100 percent clean, renewable power. ‘Florida is number one for climate impacts. We should be number one for climate solutions,’ said Darden Rice, St. Petersburg City Councilmember. ‘That’s why I’m proud of our city’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy.’...’Localities, regions and the state are making serious progress, yet not quickly enough,’ said former Arlington Board Chairman and regional environmental leader Jay Fisette. ‘The military, which has a large presence in Virginia, is increasingly taking action on climate. ‘Whether it’s increasingly severe hurricanes along our coasts or catastrophic droughts and wildfires out west, climate change is affecting our communities now, and it’s getting harder and harder to ignore,’ concluded McGimsey. ‘States and cities across the country are taking this issue seriously, showing us the way forward, and inspiring us to think bigger and bolder.’ Andrea McGimsey writes for Environment America.


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Upcoming Environmental Events

September 17, 6:00 pm - Earth Ethics presents #Don'tSuck short film (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics at Pensacola's Downtown Library, 239 N Spring Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 for the viewing of a short video on straws and their impacts. Join the #Don’tSuck movement to get straws the heck out of here! Learn how you can help as an individual, get restaurants and stores motivated to kick the straw habit. Be prepared to be part of the social media blitz. Let us know if you plan to join us. Get your ticket by visiting the EventBrite link here , and for more information visit the Facebook page here.  

September 19, 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. – FREE Trouble in Paradise Webinar:  This project was spearheaded by the late Nathaniel Pryor Reed to educate candidates for office and citizens on key environmental issues facing our state and strategies to address them.  Attend this free webinar to learn more and gain insights on how to advocate for change.  Trouble in Paradise was produced by 1000 Friends of Florida, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Florida. The webinar has been approved for professional certification credits for planners, Florida attorneys, and certified environmental health professionals.  The full report and registration information are available at http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/

September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (High Springs): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs, FL 32643.

September 25, 6:00 PM - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Destin) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of Okaloosa & Walton County, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (Lake City): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information.  Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL  32055

October 2, 12:00 pm - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Pensacola) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. - Palm Beach County 2070 Workshop:   What does the future hold for Palm Beach County?  Can the county accommodate the more than 750,000 new residents anticipated by 2070 and still maintain its quality of life and natural lands?  Join 1000 Friends of Florida in exploring how Palm Beach County should grow with experts on conservation, planning, urban development, economic development and citizen engagement.  What can we do today to plan for a better tomorrow in Palm Beach County?   This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach.  The cost is $20 per attendee and professional certification credits have been approved for planners (7 AICP CM #221015), Certified Foodplain Managers, and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.

October 12, 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Martin County 2070 Workshop:  Martin County is expected to grow by about 30% by 2070. How can the County accommodate new residents and still maintain its quality of life and natural areas?  A team of conservationists, planners, developers and others will explore how to lay the foundation now for a more sustainable future for Martin County.  This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida and The Guardians of Martin County and is being held in Stuart.  Registration is $20 per attendee and includes lunch.  Professional certification credits have been approved for planners (5.75 AICP CM) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.   We hope you’ll join us!  Find out more and register at /www.1000friendsofflorida.org/martin-county-2070/

October 13, 9:00am-3:00pm - Fall Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale (Parrish): The Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program present the Fall Wildflower Festival and Native Plant Sale at Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish. Get all the latest information from conservation groups such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Audubon Society, Tampa Bay Watch, and more. Ray’s Vegan Soul food available for purchase. For more information, call 941-776-0501.

November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar:  This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company.  This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.

November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

Petitions

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Rezoning 5-acres in Palm Harbor

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

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